More than 300,000 will soon lose jobless benefits in Mass. The looming cutoff reveals an economy divided by extremes

In the ultimate act of unfortunate timing, the pandemic-era unemployment benefits for some 7.5 million people will run out on or justbefore Labor Day, the federal holiday that honors the contributions of American workers.

The largest such cutoff in history, affecting more than 300,000 in Massachusetts, is taking place as the coronavirus pandemic that caused unprecedented job losses escalates once again, casting a shadow over a still shaky employment landscape.

“Reopening the bottom part of this economy is hell,” said John Drew, chief executive of Action for Boston Community Development, an antipoverty agency that itself cannot find enough child care workers to staff all of its Head Start classrooms. For those on unemployment who have used the time and benefits to pursue a new career, Drew said, the mind-set seems to be: “Maybe I can do better than going back to that lousy job I had.”